A review of Expo 2015

Where the World’s Fair works and doesn’t

Jason Martinez, Andrea Paoletti
June 25, 2015

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Until October 31, visitors from all over the globe are heading to Milan for Expo 2015. Under the theme ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life,’ this Universal Exposition has brought together almost 150 countries and 40 international organizations and businesses to celebrate their diverse cultures, traditions, technology and innovations, especially relating to food and diet. Recently, I was one of those visitors to the Rho Fiera site and I found that Expo has infused an air of celebration into the serious discussion of world food safety, security and innovation.

 The area feels like a mix between a theme park and a museum. Many pavilions showcase their culture in an interesting and interactive way while focusing on the overall theme of the Expo, and, as these World’s Fairs seek to draw families, many exhibits are both accessible and engaging to all ages. Larger nations like Germany have massive pavilions lined wall to wall with informative interactive features. Indeed, the German pavilion, one of the most notable of the Expo, features games and videos—even an interactive concert.

Not all of the countries’ efforts impressed, though. The large United States' pavilion feels relatively empty inside. Inside the cavernous structure, the first of the three levels offers a simple video presentation relating loosely to the Expo theme and concluding with a list of regional food specialties. The sparse second level features a recorded greeting by Barack Obama. On the third level, to the tune of top-40 hits, a bar serves drinks that are not necessarily representative of the United States.

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In keeping with its world-famous food culture, Italy’s organizers hand picked a theme perfectly suited for the country’s first Expo in more than two decades. The host nation’s area, with more than 20 pavilions, represents Italy’s continued commitment to food excellence. Italy’s national pavilion is a massive, four-story structure, and each region is represented with a smaller pavilion celebrating its individuality.

 

Most participating countries stay true to the overall theme while providing an engaging (sometimes even captivating) experience. Musical performances, parades and other shows give the Expo a festive, jovial atmosphere. While raising awareness of serious global nutrition issues, Expo 2015 also manages to delight.

 

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photos by Andrea Paoletti

 

VOICES FROM THE CROWD

During my visit to Expo 2015, I gathered reactions from visitors:

‘It was an incredible experience to see every country’s pavilion proudly displaying the uniqueness of culture all under the context of working together to solve important global issues.’

‘Expo was a culturally enlightening experience. It was a chance to learn about other countries I would have never even thought to study. It was a reminder that while our world is so big, we can each play a major role in making a better world for tomorrow.’

‘It was a great educational experience  . . . a huge opportunity for people from around the world to learn about different countries and their cultures.’

‘Food in the various restaurants is just too expensive. Taking into account that the ticket to the expo can cost up to 39 euro I would have expected lower prices and above all more free tastings of local specialties in the pavilions!’

‘It is really like traveling the whole world, from one pavilion to the other means seeing different cultures and landscapes.’

 

 

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